October 2010 Newsletter


Monthly Writing Challenge

Editors' Choices


Publication Announcements

Reviewer Honor Roll

Membership Info



We've had some major sales in the last couple of months by OWW members. Our own Leah Bobet sold ABOVE to Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., and Jodi Meadows sold ERIN INCARNATE to Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. It makes us feel very proud to have two outstanding sales back to back.

Here's hoping there are more announcements on the horizon. OWW is a hothouse of outstanding talent, as many of our veteran members have proven. Let's keep it coming!

If you are one of our members who has made it to publication with a major book publisher, and you want your new book featured in our On Shelves Now section of this newsletter, please send us a cover image, a short description (cover copy is fine), and publication date and publisher in time for us to tell all OWW's newsletter readers about it.

As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW newsletter.

Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com

Monthly Writing Challenge

For October we're going to continue to deconstruct the Hero's Journey, looking at it from other angles and creating stories from these perspectives. A phase of the Hero's Journey often overlooked is the temptation to abandon the journey, which Campbell described as "Woman as temptress." While his reasoning and categorization may be horrible, the temptation to lay down the burden of heroism is a strong one, and one often ignored even in works which follow the model of the heroic journey, mostly because it was ignored in Vogler's book. We're going to take it up. Tempt your hero/heroine. Seduce them into laying down their journey and enjoying life instead of the pain and suffering that they must continue to endure in their noble journey. I encourage you to write this from the point of view of the tempter/temptress if your story will have one, but perhaps, like Frodo, the hero will be his or her own tempter.

Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don't forget to stretch yourself. If you normally write fantasy, try SF. If you've never tried space opera, here's your chance. It doesn't have to be great. It's all about trying new things. There's no word limit, no time limit, no nothin'. Just have fun.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com). 

Editors' Choices

The Editors' Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories--science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories -- receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author. 

This issue's reviews are written by Resident Editors Jeanne Cavelos, Karen Meisner, John Klima, and Karin Lowachee. The last four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop. Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and click on "Editors' Choices." 

Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!

Editors' Choices, Fantasy

THE FINAL FORMULA, Chapter 18 by Becca Andre

A lot of people I know dislike first-person narratives. And I'll admit, they can be tough to pull off. The most common argument I hear is that if the protagonist is telling the story, there's no tension as we know that he or she won't die. I always say to my friends that they need to work on their suspension of disbelief. If you can buy into a world of dragons, trolls, spellcasters, etc., the least you can do is let yourself get caught up in the story. My point is that you can't dismiss first-person narratives because you've read a few you didn't like.

Becca Andre uses a first-person narrative for her novel The Final Formula. I think this works for the most part as the reader really needs to see the story through the eyes of the protagonist, Addie. Andre does suffer a bit from the concept of the protagonist not ever being in danger. One of the best ways around this is to actually have a few bad things happen to your main character. Addie is certainly in danger in this chapter, and from the synopsis we know that she does not walk through battles without a scratch. While Andre can never get completely away from the sense that the character will live through the book--and really, how many books have protagonists/heroes who die?--she can get the reader to worry about her well-being.

(Go ahead, write a bunch of novels where the hero dies. See if anyone in publishing wants to touch them. You can do this a little, but it can't become your modus operandi. Publishers and readers want heroes to live. They just invested a decent chunk of time learning about them, so don't kill them off without good reason--and don't make a practice of it.)

In this case, despite the first-person POV, I think the reader will worry. Addie is suffering from amnesia and is in a constant struggle with the people who surround her that know her and her past. This way the reader gets really invested in what Addie is doing as we don't know any more than she does. In this case, first-person makes complete sense. I have to say I also really like that Addie is an alchemist. I think that's really interesting and quite different from the typical wizard/witch/vampire/etc. that we see out in the urban/dark fantasy world right now. It adds a different air to the novel that I find refreshing.

One thing I see again and again are people describing weaponry and the use of weaponry where I feel the writer clearly has never used the item in question. I grew up in a household of hunters and fishers and have a fair amount of experience with guns, bows, gutting and cleaning animals, etc.  I cannot advocate that people go out and hunt to understand these things, but it might be quite illuminating finding a local club where you could shoot a bow and arrow or a crossbow or perhaps even fence a bit to see how using a sword actually feels. Neal Stephenson felt he got a lot of the sword-fighting he described in his Baroque cycle of novels wrong. In researching how to do it right--by fighting with swords and other cool things--Stephenson started his new Mongoliad project. So if you're feeling that you're not describing a weapon or its use correctly, you're in pretty good company.

Andre has a group of characters who use crossbows in this chapter. Now, I don't know a lot about crossbows. But I do know that crossbows do not shoot arrows, they shoot quarrels. What's the difference? Well, arrows are typically considerably longer, which means they can be shot farther with greater accuracy. Think of bows versus crossbows as rifles versus pistols. With a crossbow, you'll want to be close to what you want to hit. A crossbow would have to be huge to fire arrows. Unfortunately the one description we get in this chapter of the crossbow itself implies to me that there's nothing special about its size.

I'm about to get gruesome; for that I apologize. Normally, arrows/quarrels used for hunting are aluminum. That makes them strong and light. Andre's characters have steel-shafted arrows which would be unnecessarily heavy. You would need a very powerful crossbow to be able to shoot a quarrel with any distance and accuracy. In this chapter, James has an arrow stuck in his chest (don't worry, he's not exactly human). A weapon powerful enough to shoot the steel arrow would have put it right through James' body unless it's stuck in his ribs or spine. If the quarrels have field points--think of a pencil tip--it's even more likely that the quarrel would go right through James' body. If they have broadheads--the field point is still there, but it has four to six razor-edged blades on it--then it could get stuck, but it would get stuck in bone.

What's more, arrows spin as they fly, so a broadhead creates a corkscrew wound. What does that mean? It means you can't pull a broadhead out of someone, you need to push it through and pull it out the other side. Another drawback to pulling the broadhead out--as opposed to pushing it through--is that you'll likely have at least one of the blades come off inside your target. For the purpose of this scene, I think pushing the arrow through and yanking it out the other side fits in very nicely with the characters.

One last bit about arrows. When the arrow is drawn out, the character licks the arrowhead. Squeamishness aside, if we're talking a broadhead, this is an unecessary risk. It's not even the same as licking a blade. There are so many points and edges you'd cut up your tongue as much as you'd look tough. Andre could accomplish the same effect by having the characters gather some blood on his finger and licking/sucking it off his finger.

This is really a small thing in a well-written chapter. But by doing a little research, your readers will appreciate your accuracy. You don't want to spend your time crafting interesting characters and interesting plots only to have details like this throw the reader out of the story and back into his easy chair. Andre has enough compelling components to her chapter--interesting characters and a different backstory/setting--to hold the readers' attention. For me, the whole alchemy angle is more than enough to make me want to read the rest of The Final Formula.

John Klima
Editor, Electric Velocipede

Editors' Choices, Science Fiction

RED HORSE RUNNING, Part 1 by Larry Knupp

The workshop has always been an opportunity for writers not only to hone their storytelling and critiquing skills, but also to experiment in the art of synopsis writing. When multiple chapters of a novel are posted over a long period of time, it helps critiquers who might drop in mid-novel to read a synopsis of events thus far (or a whole book synopsis). As synopses are required when submitting novels to publishers and agents, this is a format worth spending time on.

With this month's EC, we are given a 7-page synopsis of the prequel novel to the current one being workshopped. It's worth commenting on, briefly, in advance of the comments on the chapter itself. Overall the synopsis is not honed. While the novel's concept is interesting and we get a sense of the relationships involved, there are too many characters highlighted and no single dominating plot thread that would tell an editor or agent that the writer has a strong command of pacing and story. Writing a synopsis well utilizes a different set of abilities than writing a novel. A writer must be able to encapsulate the best and most interesting parts of a novel in a succinct way -- which means whole plot threads might have to be axed, as well as characters, in order to tell the main story. Some sense of the thematic cohesion should be included as well, and the language should be more than a retelling -- a writer needs to "sell" his or her idea. For a space opera, it's essential that the language reflect the excitement and breadth of the story, while not losing sight of the human drama embedded (presumably) in the narrative. Readers love characters and some sense of the protagonist's journey should be included as well. Ending a synopsis is much the same as ending a novel -- there should be a "punch" to it that signals the reader to a sense of completion, both plot-wise and emotionally.

On to Part 1 of Red Horse Running, which uses an omniscient point-of-view that still manages to have a narrative voice that's both idiosyncratic and fitting for the characters, as it displays their personalities. For example:

The first man thought he had probably run through all the metaphors for damn hot and friggin' miserable. His name was William and he still looked like a fighter and had a buzz cut on his grey hair but he now looked and felt wilted. Six months of futility in the goddamn Sahara can do that to you.

William and the second man, whose name was Kerry, were crouching in a pit in the sand about 20 meters deep. That made it even hotter. Kerry's usually immaculate attire had been replaced by shorts and a dirty t-shirt sopping with sweat. He also smelled. Six months of futility in the goddamn Sahara can do that to you.

These were not men used to frustration but the black surface beneath them had proven the ultimate frustration.

The actual prose could use some tightening throughout, but this is common first draft-ish issues. Watch for repetition of words that aren't for narrative effect ("looked") and the use of tenses ("could do that to you"). There is also a nice rhythm to the prose: varying sentence length and structure can make the mechanics of a paragraph come alive. "William had caught himself wondering just how the stuff had decided what temperature it wanted to be. It was simply there, impenetrable, immovable, inert, silent."

The details of this complex plot aren't infodumped, but instead woven well through the narrative, between dialogue and action, and the actual minutiae isn't highly concentrated to slow down the progress. This is a briskly paced novel and the characters respond with snappy dialogue and sharp interiors. All of these elements contribute to a book that moves along without navel gazing, giving the reader's attention no reason to wander.

There are also some pretty turns of phrases, like: "The silence sat down with them again..." Especially when used in the scenes between the romantically involved protagonists, Jules and Willowby, this adds color to the narrative befitting the "action" in that scene -- but also just makes the story fun to read. Rather than bullet-efficient language, we get poetic use of it without it being overwrought. Lines like that can be effectively used to provide emotional impact so dialogue doesn't get maudlin, and it also contributes to the tone the writer may want.  Tone is something writers should be conscious of scene by scene.

The weakest scene in this first part was the one with Lancaster and his honeypot (female spy). The fact that he's a colonel and he knows she is a mysterious woman who doesn't want her background to be known -- this doesn't raise a red flag to him? We understand that he's smitten and a man can have his blind spots when beautiful women are involved, but for a military leader this would be the top concern, wouldn't it? The dialogue is also the most clunky here, perhaps because of her lack of contractions. The intrigue, though, is turned up -- though be mindful of too much too soon. You want the reader to get grounded in a couple situations and with a couple characters before you throw too much at them in the first chapters.

By the last scene we're back to Jules and Willowby, and we get a real sense of familiarity among the characters -- things seem to be going too well to last, so hopefully everything will go to pot soon. It is odd, though, how Jules is introduced again as if the reader has never met her before.

Willowby looked at the tall blonde to his right, who was standing with her arm around Willowby's waist and was resting her head on his shoulder. Col. Jules Grandon would not be a member of his crew.

That's a jarring mention of her when we've already become familiar with her in the previous scene, and reads a little heavyhanded.  The physical description is also a little awkward.

Overall this book has a sense of being the second in a series, while still satisfying the rule that the plot should work on its to some extent. A great grasp of characters and the way they interact contribute to a good pace and natural delivery of action through the scenes. Be careful not to toss out too many threads so the narrative doesn't bloat and become too unwieldy, and this can turn into a fine space opera.

--Karin Lowachee

Editors' Choices, Short Story

"The Guitarrista" by Jonathan Danz

A pawnshop owner meets a woman who is drawn to an item in his shop: a handmade mechanical music player called a "guitarrista." Her strange fascination with this toy is matched by the shopkeeper's fascination with her. When they wind up the guitarrista and play it, they're briefly transported to a romantic caravan in a desert, which seems mysteriously connected to the woman's life. Later, we learn that she has escaped from a lunatic asylum, but after she gets caught again, the shopkeeper goes to visit her, and together they find a form of escape by playing the guitarrista.

The prose is nicely spare while still appealing to the senses, creating a delicate sensation of being present in this world -- and it's an elegantly drawn world, which I enjoy visiting. The story does a good job of conveying the focus and intensity of both characters with a light touch, suggesting their emotion without handing it to us on a plate.

I'm noticing a tendency to describe things in ways that inform readers what we ought to be getting out of the scene, rather than showing us the scene in ways that would earn those responses. For example, when we first meet Esme/Gracia, the narrator describes her thus:

"Each day I observed her, I added bits and pieces in my mind, rounding out the woman I hoped she might be. I imagined her neat green brocade dress, tidy hat and prim gloves hid a woman who might be at home tending the high mountain gardens of the Muladeen or riding in the Dalusian highlands or dancing among the veiled Sharqui. [...] Esme lost herself in thought, and I lost myself in the trackless mystery of her fascination. I could compare her to an angel rapt in the mysteries of our being, but that would be too otherworldly."

There's hardly any physical description of the woman herself, and we haven't seen her do anything to warrant this kind of attention. The narrator presents Esme as though we're supposed to just take his word for it that she is fascinating, but offers no imagery or visceral experience of her that would let us understand why. If we are to believe it, then the narrator needs to fill in more of a picture, instead of just telling us what he thinks of that picture. We're getting processed commentary on his impressions of her, without the actual impressions.

And his impressions aren't entirely useful ones when it comes to creating a feel for her character. The narrator's objectification of Esme distances us from her: the way he describes her as an angel, a doll, a ghost, but never seems to observe her as a real, physical person. Perhaps this is intentional, to convey that there's something missing in her, or that he's seeing something in her beyond her appearance. But I still want some physical description to come through his narrative that presents her as an actual human in the room.

Be on the lookout for other places where description comes to the reader second-hand, such as the moment when the narrator observes that "Verbena, light and ethereal, shouldered aside the heavy scents of my shop, replacing them with the smell of spring." It makes me wonder: what does his shop usually smell like? Again we're getting his filtered opinion (the scents are "heavy") rather than sharing the full experience of being in that shop. These may seem small things, but they add up to make a real difference in our feeling that we're there with him.

To illustrate another way that an absence of character description can be a problem, let's look to some of the earliest lines in the story:

"I had seen her through the front window so often I began to think of her as Esme--Esmerelda stripped to the core, revealing adventure and humor, though I never saw her smile."

This sentence actually provides an important plot point, and I think it has the potential to become a good introduction to the story. In this draft, though, I'm not seeing it yet as a strong beginning. For one thing, the reader has no idea who "Esmerelda" is to our narrator. It's also unclear from the wording which Esme he never saw smile. This means that by the second paragraph, we're already confused and on uncertain footing in the story. Later, a careful reading will reveal hints that (if I'm understanding it correctly) this man once knew and loved a woman by that name, who died but is related to and spiritually connected to the woman in this story, apparently her granddaughter? It's difficult to piece together these facts, because we're missing a few vital bits of information: How old is this man? How old is this woman? With little to go on except the quick intensity of their emotions, I had initially read them as the same, vaguely youngish, age. If you can present him right away as elderly and do more to suggest his loneliness, the rest will begin to fall into place.

There are some great world-building details scattered throughout that help establish a gently alternate world -- the gaslight, the silk top hat, the flying gondolas, and so forth -- but in the larger context of the story, they sometimes feel a little perfunctory, like gears hot-glued onto a telephone: a steampunkery aesthetic more decorative than functional. I'd like to see some deepening of the world, a few moments here and there when we see the setting affect more than surface details. As it stands, the main character could almost be a shopkeeper from any place or time. What if he were to display some attitudes, interests, or fears formed by (or in reaction to) his society? This could also give us a richer, deeper sense of the narrator's position in that society, and his relationship to his surroundings. All of which helps us make sense of what might draw him to Esme and the desert.

This story revolves around the mysterious attraction of a person meeting someone who symbolizes something important to him. So what is our shopkeeper seeing in Esme that he's not finding elsewhere? What about his life would make him want to escape to the desert? Is he fed up with the city, unhappy with his lot in life, haunted by the loss of his love? These sorts of things absolutely should not be telegraphed overtly, but if the story can just hint at some tiny bits of background for the reader to work with, we'll use our own imaginations to glean significance from the shopkeeper's longing. It's what can move the story from a lovely mood piece to something readers may connect with more personally as resonant and meaningful. I really enjoyed reading this; good luck with it.

--Karen Meisner, Editor, Strange Horizons

Editors' Choices, Horror

"One-Eyed Jack's" by Tracy Canfield

"One-Eyed Jack's" is the story of Granny Hilburn's struggle to control multiple sources of evil in her town. On one side is the Sing, a powerful force created by the congregation of the church. On the other side is One-Eyed Jack's, a club that is spreading its corrupting tentacles. While they fight each other for control of the town, Granny stands in between, trying to provide a safe haven and to prevent either side from becoming dominant. She can't destroy either side, because much of her power is devoted to holding off a third force, the nearby Interstate. If this all sounds pretty strange, it is. The story is very original and contains some vivid, striking images unlike any I've seen before. That is the great strength of the story. But it is also a weakness.

Each story has a "strangeness budget." I first heard this term, I think, from Ellen Kushner. Some stories can get away with more strangeness than others, but generally, too much strangeness can overwhelm the readers, making them feel lost and making it difficult for them to relate to the characters. Generally, there are two kinds of strangeness: strangeness in character and strangeness in setting. These lead to two different kinds of stories: the strange toad in the familiar garden, and the familiar toad in the strange garden. An example of the first type of story is Twilight: we have strange creatures--vampires and werewolves--in our familiar world. An example of the latter is Harry Potter: a young boy goes into a strange world of wizarding and magic. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is another example. Both of those types of stories are generally easy for readers to handle and don't exceed their strangeness budget. The challenge comes when you have a strange toad in a strange garden. The strangeness tends to overwhelm the reader. While Granny is not a completely strange toad, she is quite different from us. She has powers that are vast and not clearly defined; she has no mother, implying a fantastical origin; and she has access to knowledge and sensory input that we're not privy to. The world of the story is extremely strange. At times this provides powerful, unusual images, such as the Interstate wrapping around the mountain. But at other times, the images are unclear and the world's strangeness is overwhelming. For example, I really don't know how to think about the Sing. I don't know if it's just loud singing that echoes into all parts of the town, or if it's like a tractor beam pulling at people, or if it gets into people's brains and makes them attracted to the church. At one point the Sing is causing a wind, but not at other times. Another example is the church itself. The story says its walls "had fallen away," so I don't know what Granny is seeing when she looks at the church. Are the people just standing on a floor? Are there pews? The church is also described as pulsing like a heart, but I don't know what's pulsing, if there are no walls. Many parts of the story leave me struggling to understand what's going on and what it looks and feels like.

Stronger description could help with some of this, but it would also help to reduce the amount of strangeness, both in the setting and the character. The setting seems to contain magic through singing, plants, and witch magic (Granny's staff, etc.), along with the highway. If the magic could all work through a single mechanism, that would make it easier to understand. For example, everything could work through sound--the Sing, the music of the club, the whine of the traffic on the highway, the chanting of Granny. Also, Granny could be made more of a normal person and less a strange creature. Perhaps she does have a mother, and Lizzie is her daughter, but she's been taught this one magical power, to chant against evil sounds.

The other main area I'd like to discuss is the plot. I think you want me to finish the story feeling sad for Granny, who used her power to destroy both the Sing and the club, but lost her life in the process. Unfortunately, I don't really feel that sadness; I don't feel the tragedy of Granny's fate. Instead, I wonder why she's held back the highway all this time, since she could have stopped the evil much earlier. I think the main reason the end doesn't evoke the desired emotion is the lack of a causal chain in the plot. The events of the story seem to happen randomly, because the author wants them to, not because some previous event caused them to happen. I've talked about the reasons a causal chain is important in previous critiques, so I won't repeat them here. But in this story, there seems to be no reason why the Sing is getting stronger at this moment in time, and no reason why the club is spreading out, no reason why Granny wrongly think Lizzie has been taken by the Sing, no reason why Rob joined the Sing now, no reason why Lizzie is overwhelmed by the club, no reason why Granny has held back the Interstate and allowed this other evil to flourish, and no reason why she dies. This makes it hard for the reader to become engaged in the story and to feel the emotional impact of events. It also makes the story seem even stranger, since we don't know why things are happening. If the various events are connected in a chain of cause and effect, then we'll understand them and their significance better.

For the rest of this review, visit the Editor's Choice area of the OWW site!

--Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey


Unless you've been without a computer for the last few years, you are bound to have heard of Angela James, one of the most visible spokespeople for digital publishing and currently the executive editor for Carina Press, Harlequin's digital-first imprint.

I met Angela when she was executive editor at Samhain Publishing and I was immediately taken by her disarming manner and her obscenely high energy levels. At one point I debated whether this woman ever slept.

Recently she generously took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about herself and her responsibilities at Carina Press. For more information, you can visit the Carina Press blog or find Angela James on Twitter or Facebook.

As you'll see by the interview, Angela James has got to be one of the hardest-working editors in publishing.


What are the duties of an executive editor at Carina Press?

Since I'm the one person at Harlequin who is dedicated to Carina Press full time, my duties are quite varied and this could get long so hold on to your hats! I'm in charge of hiring, training and managing all of our freelance editors and copy editors, as well as all things related to editorial (style guide, various documents for editors, etc). This would also include doing random quality control on books pre-production, to give feedback to authors and editors.

logoI monitor the submissions inbox, send submissions out to the editors, process their reports on all submissions, present their acquisitions recommendations to the team, run the acquisitions agenda and meeting, send out rejections, make acquisitions phone calls, coordinate with agents, input contracts into the system, participate in contract negotiation, and do many other little things involved in getting authors into our system and part of the Carina Press team.

I also work with all of the authors on release-week marketing and manage all of the Carina Press social media venues, including Facebook, Twitter and the blog. I collaborate with the other Carina Press team members on marketing, cover art, back cover copy and metadata.

I attend conferences and do speaking engagements on behalf of Carina, regarding the digital industry, writing, editing and social media. I also collaborate with the Carina team on different things surrounding conferences (events we host, giveaways, promo items).


Essentially, I'm the point person for all things Carina, so I have my hands in a little bit of everything, from process to publication. I answer a lot of e-mail since I monitor s the General Inquiries inbox and the Submissions e-mail. If there's a question from an editor or author, it often comes to me first and I funnel it to the appropriate team member. And...I'm sure there are many, many things I'm forgetting. Like the fact that I do still edit a few authors.

Based on your own observations, what are the top three mistakes made by beginning genre writers?

1. Being in a hurry to submit the book, because it's written, rather than taking time to self-edit, set it aside and give some distance from it, and polish it.

2. Starting the book in the wrong place. Feeling like the reader needs set-up, instead of starting the book when everything changes. Someone in the self-editing course I offer just told it to me like this, and I said I was going to steal it: Don't start the book when you put the pot of water on the stove. Start the book when it's boiling.

3. Believing that all you have to do is write the book, and that you don't have to worry about promotion and marketing until it's sold. In reality, an author's job is much more than writing the book these days, and the promo and marketing starts while you're writing. Not after it's published.

Do you Google potential authors before you offer a contract?

My freelance editors do! They Google authors even just for submissions they're reading. They've discovered all sorts of things that way, like that the book has been sold to another publisher (but not withdrawn from us), the book was previously for sale, or the author has publically trashed an editor/publisher in an unprofessional way.

Can you tell us your favorite story of how you found one of your authors?

Years ago, when I was first starting in digital publishing with another new publisher, there was a blog post where someone was talking about publishing. In the comments, an unpublished author said she would never consider digital publishing, and listed a few reasons why. I rebutted her reasoning with my own arguments, we had a lively debate, and several months later, she submitted a book to me. I acquired that novel, and years later, she's a passionate, vocal supporter of digital publishing! And in a twist of fate, the author of the original blog post was one of Carina Press's launch authors. All things full circle.

What makes for an instant rejection?

Oh, there are a few things, though not many. Outright rudeness or arrogance in the query letter. Starting off by saying you only want an advance of a certain amount. A submission that's 2 million words long (yes, I got one of those) or in a foreign language (that was the same submission, actually).

How much involvement do have in books that are acquired or rejected?

We have a team process for acquisitions, and since I'm part of that team, I get input on all acquisitions. Because the editors send all reports to me, and I send out rejection letters, I also have input on all rejections. In fact, there have been books that one editor has written a rejection report on that I've turned around and given to another editor who's later acquired it. I've gotten good at reading the reports and distilling if another editor might like it better because of subjective reasons.

Is Carina looking for straight Science Fiction and Fantasy or must there be a romantic element to be considered?

Yes, we're absolutely looking for Science Fiction and Fantasy with no romantic elements. One of our January releases, 47 ECHO by Shawn Kupfer, is a science fiction thriller with no romantic elements. We'd love to publisher more, and will continue to look for them.

What don't you see enough of at Carina Press?

Well, see the answer above. Science fiction and fantasy, whether romance or not. We'd like to see more of both, including subgenres (steampunk, cyberpunk, high fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, futuristic etc). We also don't see enough quality erotic romance submissions, and oddly, straight contemporary romance submissions.

What is your acceptance rate at Carina? How do you respond when people say getting into an e-press is easy?

We are very open about our acceptance rate and post it on the Carina Press blog every few months. It continues to be around 5% acceptance from slush and about 8% acceptance overall when you factor in non-slush submissions (those from returning authors, authors we've invited to submit or authors we've worked with at previous publishers).

When people say getting into an e-press is easy, I generally say they're both right and wrong. There are a lot of e-presses out there, and no, not all e-presses are created equal (yes, I said it, but anyone willing to be honest will say the same thing) because it's easy to open an e-press--all you need is access to a computer, a web site and one book to sell, and you're a "publisher." However, it's very hard to be successful at running a digital-first press, and to do it in such a way that both authors and publisher are making a profit over the years. So is getting published by an e-press easy? It depends. We can't lump all e-presses together any more than we can lump all authors/traditional publishers/readers together as the same.  So is getting published by Carina Press easy? Absolutely. If you've written a great book!

What do you read for pleasure? Is it hard to take off your editor's hat when you read for pleasure?

I read a variety of things for pleasure, though most often it's something in the paranormal, fantasy, futuristic, science fiction genres/subgenres. I do like romance but I think the much of my reading is often books with romantic elements. I like the assurance of a happy payoff after the emotional rollercoaster, though. I do make a conscious effort to read an assortment of genres, so I do read straight fiction, contemporary romance, historical romance, and YA. I also make a conscious effort to read from publishers who publish in our genres, so I know what they're releasing, and who the authors are. I'm least likely to read non-fiction, but I do read it. There aren't a lot of genres I won't read, as long as the book appeals to me.

Over the years, I've learned to shut off my editorial brain while reading. It was either that or give up pleasure reading, and I can't have that! It's a bit harder to read Carina Press books for pure pleasure, though, because those I'm always analyzing. But otherwise, if I'm unable to shut off my editor side while reading, then I know the book isn't for me and I move on to the next book.

What would you be doing if you weren't an editor?

I'd be an Occupational Therapist in a psych hospital. I have a degree and once worked as an OTR/L (registered/licensed) in a psych hospital, running group and individual sessions. I loved it, it was a wonderful job. It's what I expected to be my career. Publishing and editing was something that happened unexpectedly. Now that I'm IN publishing, I can't imagine any other path, and I don't intend to leave it, but I was a good OT and if I hadn't discovered publishing, I would have been very happy continuing on!

Thank you, Angela!

Publication Announcements

Leah Bobet tells us: "'For Pomegranates,' which I read at this year's Rhysling Poetry Slam at Readercon,* and 'Little Songs' will be appearing in the autumn and winter issues of Goblin Fruit."

Karl Bunker says: "My OWW-critted story 'Under the Shouting Sky' is currently out in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection."

Peter Cooper sent us an e-mail to let us know: "My short-story, 'Zombie Dreams' has been accepted for publication in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #52, due out Aug 11. The story was workshopped on OWW. Special thanks to Eliza Collins for her helpful feedback."

Tom Crosshill is thrilled to report another sale: "'Mama, We Are Zhenya, Your Son' to Lightspeed Magazine. Thanks very much to Swapna Kishore, April Grey, and Tracy Canfield for critting this at OWW."

Elizabeth Hull wrote us to say, "My flash story 'A Time For All Seasons' has been selected as an editor's choice by Flashquakes for the fall edition. While this piece was not workshopped, it was critted by Jennifer Dawson a few years back. Thanks to her comments, the right changes were made."

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is excited to tell us that "'Catching an Angel' is out at One Minute Weird Tales."

Tony Peak announced: "'The Walls of Yesterday' was accepted by Electric Spec for their August 2010 issue and 'Red of the Riding Hood' to Sonar4 Publication's for their Twisted Fairy Tales 2 anthology. Thanks to those who reviewed it here on the workshop!"

Reviewer Honor Roll

The Reviewer Honor Roll is a great way to pay back a reviewer for a really useful review.  When you nominate a reviewer, we list the reviewer's name, the submission/author reviewed, and your explanation of what made the review so useful.  The nomination appears in the Honor Roll area of OWW the month after you submit it, and is listed  for a month. You can nominate reviewers of your own submissions or reviewers of other submissions, if you have learned from reading the review.  Think of it as a structured, public "thank you" that gives credit where credit is due and helps direct other OWWers to useful reviewers and useful review skills.

Visit the Reviewer Honor Roll page for a complete list of nominees and explanatory nominations.

September 2010 Honor Roll Nominees

Reviewer: Michael Staton
Submission: Whispers of a Storm Book 1 Chapter 3
Submitted by: Italo Samano

Reviewer: Rock Savage
Submission: Attrition, Chapters 7 and 8
Submitted by: Dev Agarwal

Reviewer: Cécile Cristofari
Submission: Legion
Submitted by: Christine Lucas

Reviewer: Swapna Kishore
Submission: On Mars, at Night
Submitted by: Christine Lucas

Reviewer: Erin Stocks
Submission: On Mars, at Night
Submitted by: Christine Lucas

Reviewer: Elizabeth McGlothlin
Submission: Meridien -Chapter 3
Submitted by: Cat Torres V

Reviewer: L. K. Pinaire
Submission: Prophet of Pathways query & synopsis
Submitted by: Tony Peak

Reviewer: Selina Fenech
Submission: Meridien- Alternative First chapter
Submitted by: Cat Torres V

Reviewer: elizabeth hull
Submission: All's Fair in Love, War, and Magic - Chapter Seventeen
Submitted by: Jeanne Haskin

Reviewer: Lydia Kurnia
Submission: All's Fair in Love, War, and Magic - Chapter Seventeen
Submitted by: Jeanne Haskin<

Reviewer: Elizabeth McGlothlin
Submission: All's Fair in Love, War, and Magic - Chapter Seventeen
Submitted by: Jeanne Haskin

Reviewer: Jeanne Haskin
Submission: Dead Girls Can't Tell Part 3
Submitted by: Anita Stewart

Reviewer: Rock Savage
Submission: All's Fair in Love, War, and Magic - Chapter Eighteen
Submitted by: Jeanne Haskin

Reviewer: Margaret Fisk
Submission: The Lonely Orchard
Submitted by: Dawn Hebein

Reviewer: Matt Horgan
Submission: Dead Girls Can't Tell Part 2
Submitted by: Anita Stewart

Reviewer: michael keyton
Submission: "Mitch" by Analog Man
Submitted by: Analog Man

Reviewer: Kim Purdue (Mr.)
Submission: Chapter 26 - The Greensward Isle by Melisa Erwin
Submitted by: Melisa Erwin

Reviewer: Elizabeth McGlothlin
Submission: Shadows Rise (was Hounds be Released) by David Fortier
Submitted by: David Fortier

Reviewer: Steve Chapman
Submission: Shadows Rise (was Hounds be Released) by David Fortier
Submitted by: David Fortier

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Got a helpful tip for your fellow members? A trick or hint for submitting or reviewing, for what to put in your author's comments, for getting good reviews, or for formatting or titling your submission? Share it with us and we'll publish it in the next newsletter. Just send it to support (at) sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com and we'll do the rest.

Until next month--just write!

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
support (at) sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com